Heaven (Heaven, #1)

ISBN: 0689822901
ISBN 13: 9780689822902
By: Angela Johnson John Jude Palencar

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African American Battle Of The Books Currently Reading Fiction Realistic Fiction Series Teen To Read Ya Young Adult

About this book

Marley has lived in Heaven since she was two years old, when her mother found a postcard postmarked HEAVEN, OH on a park bench and decided that was where she wanted to raise her family. And for twelve years, Marley's hometown has lived up to its name. She lives in a house by the river, has loving parents, a funny younger brother, good friends, and receives frequent letters from her mysterious Uncle Jack. Then one day a letter arrives form Alabama, and Marley's life is turned upside down. Marley doesn't even know who she is anymore -- but where can she go for answers, when she's been deceived by the very people she should be able to trust the most?

Reader's Thoughts


I like Marley and would love to live in Heaven but the characters are not fleshed out very well and the whole book feels a bit shadowy. Quick read though and one which raises interesting questions...


I actually listened to this book and I missed a few key words, as a result I listend to two of the cds twice. The second time through I realized Johnson was using some of her characters from "The First Part Last".


This was such a sensitive and delicate little novel that I checked several times to see if I was actually reading one of Jacqueline Woodson's best.Fourteen-year-old Marley lives an almost idyllic existence in the little town of Heaven. Her parents love her, she gets along with her brother (mostly), and she's built a family of friends of all ages who watch out for her. Plus, there are the letters from Uncle Jack, who she's never met, but who writes her regularly and tells her about his life on the road and his dog named Boy. When Marley learns that everything about her family isn't the way it seems, it forces her to re-examine life and her place in it.This is a novel that, despite its brevity, does not go for easy answers or one-dimensional characters. Everyone has a depth to them. Marley's voice feels authentic; while she is clearly intelligent and sensitive, she is also fourteen and confused, and it comes through beautifully. I loved this book.

Kimberly Scott

fourteen year old Marley grew up in Heaven, OH with her Momma, Pops, and little brother Butchy. Her life had always been secure with a loving mother and father and a brother whom she got along with. She would receive letters from her Uncle Jack often, but she had never met him. Her happy life is turned upside down when she finds out that Momma and Pops are not her real parents. Her mother, Christine, died in a car accident and her father, "Uncle Jack" could not handle taking care of Marley by himself. Marley struggles with what family means and who she really is, until she sees all those around her. She learns that love an create a family bond even if they aren't your blood relatives. The plot of Heaven seemed very generic. The plot went like this; there was a perfect life that was drastically changed by something that was more dramatic then it should be. The character then learns and gives a little "lesson learned" conclusion at the end of the novel. I also did not appreciate the writing style. It was confusing at times. Some parts seemed to try and create suspense, but it only confused me. I didn't want to read the book at some moments because of the writing.


Marley has lived in Heaven, Ohio since she was two years old. She has Momma and Pops and her brother, and her friends Bobby and Shoogy, and her Uncle Jack who writes her letters from all over the country. But when she learns that Momma and Pops are actually her aunt and uncle, and the Uncle Jack that she has been writing to and receiving letters from for 10 years is actually her father, she has to take a look at her life and decide if this new information really changes things.This was a happy, read-in-an-hour-on-a-Sunday-afternoon kind of book. It was thoughtful, and I was intrigued by the character Shoogy, as well as Bobby and his daughter Feather. It wasn't plot-driven, but character driven, but I left with a generally peaceful feeling. Not particularly thought-provoking, but maybe it would have more meaning to me if I'd been adopted and not known it for most of my life.


Marley is a fourteen-year-old girl who lives with her parents and older brother in Heaven, Ohio, a small town where everyone gets along and there isn't any crime. She hangs out with a former beauty queen who turned self-abusive because of the pressure, and a dreadlocked single dad from New York. She babysits his daughter, Feather, and learns about life from him and her friend Shoogy, the former beauty queen. Marley finds out that she's adopted, and her world turns upside-down. This book talks a lot about what makes a family as Marley tries to figure out who her family really is. I loved learning along with Marley and Johnson is wonderful at drawing the reader in to Marley's struggle.

Shally Clark

Copyright: 1998Number of pages: 138Summary:Marley lives an ordinary life in Heaven, OH with two parents who love her, a little brother she gets along with best friends she spends a lot of time with and other neighbors and family that she loves. She also has an uncle Jack who she has not seen since right after her birth. She feels likes everything in her life is great until she finds out news that flips her world upside down. This book is about how Marley, has to find stability in the midst of confusion and decide as a 14-year-old, how she is going to live the rest of her life.My reaction to the book:I thought is was a good book. Because of its length it couldn't be as developed as I usually like in books. The story was heart warming but not something I would need to read again. It did teach great valuable lessons about family, personal strength and love.


This is a sweet little story about a 14-year-old girl named Marley. She lives with her mom and dad and her brother in a town called Heaven and writes letters to her Uncle Jack all the time. Then she finds out a big secret that she is not sure how to cope with and it really changes her perspective on her family and her whole life.I thought this was a really cute story and a quick read. Marley is sweet and easy to fall in love with. It was interesting to see how parental decisions effect their children. One little decision so many years before, kept secret can really change a child's perspective. No one likes to be lied to.

Destinee Tate

This book was really good it was one of those books you kind of have to put the pieces together to make the book make since like how the box represents her identity.

Jaclyn Giordano

** spoiler alert ** “Even though some of the stories will hurt my hear and sometimes make me afraid of losing more of what I have; I want her to know that it’s been a fine life, for a girl like me, in Heaven.” Heaven is a chapter book intended for students in grades three through 6. I gave Heaven four stars because of its brutally honest and eye-opening story line of finding out that one’s parents aren’t really one’s parents after all. Family and life, love and trust can turn upside-down in one instant. Angela Johnson’s book is both sad and empowering. It can really connect to students who are searching for their identities, amongst those who are their family by blood and who are their family by bond. Set in the serene, yet kooky town of Heaven, Ohio, this text allows the reader to see deep into the heart of one teenage girl. The reader may even see themselves in the main character of Marley, as she could be your best friend, one who babysits, eats ice cream, stares up at the stars, and goes to the beach. Readers will be truly enthralled as the story unfolds. This text challenges and makes the reader think of the true definitions of love and family. Its commonplace setting and characters, with its heart-wrenching problems and situations, lets the reader see themselves in it. True to life, true to a teenager. It’s a metaphor for finding yourself and your identity amongst simplicity and then chaos, a text that any human can truly connect to.


A fast, good read. My kids really like this one, especially those who also read First Part Last. They like knowing that Feather and her dad are alright. As usual, Johnson manages to pack quite a punch in a fairly short book. She had me crying!

Nancy Chaffin

Marley, the main character, lives in Heaven, Ohio and her life is heaven in the beginning of the story. She loves her family and shares sweet stories of family bonding at home and on road trips. One of my favorite stories is of a family trip to Cleveland to see “the museums, fireworks, and a rib-burn-off.” She has two good friends named Shoogy and Bobby and, though their lives are not perfect, they enjoy one another’s company and feel comfortable with each other. One of Marley’s responsibilities is wiring money to her Uncle Jack on a regular basis. Jack is a wanderer who travels the United States with his dog and she has never met him. Marley’s perfect existence comes to a halt one day when she learns the truth about herself and her family and the remainder of the book documents her pain as she comes to grips with her less than perfect circumstances. Her family and friends stay close to her as she lashes out in pain and seeks to understand. This book provided insights into a young girl's feelings as she wrestled with an unsettling truth. As it is a time of physical and emotional change, it is little wonder that such news would be devastating. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to young adults.

Kayna Olsen

Marley is 14 and has a wonderful life in Heaven. Heaven, Ohio that is; she is quite alive. She loves her Momma and Pops and even her little brother Butchy. Marley exchanges letters with her Uncle Jack frequently while wiring him money through the local Washington Mutual. Even though she writes him so much she has never seen him except for when she was really little. One day, as a result of churches being burned to the ground, Marley learns the truth about everyone; her Uncle Jack, Momma, Pops, and the truth she never knew about herself.This was a well written story that tells about a young girl discovering what it is that really matters and the people that make up a family. I really liked how everything was handled and presented in this novel. Marley was confused but she learned a lot about trusting people and not letting one instant change your view of them for ever. I got a little bit confused when the truth came out almost like I had missed something and who they were talking about, but I pretty quickly figured it out.

Kenzie Keppner

This was a pretty good coming of age book. It was just very sweet and a nice read. I loved the main character Marley. She really thought very deeply for her age and I guess when you find out something like your parents really are not your parents, then you kind of have to grow up quickly. She was very mature for her age and I felt like she already had a good understanding of life. Although I have not read "The First Part Last" I know Bobby and Feather are from that book. I want to read that book now to find out who Feather's mother was!Violence: 1- No violence, it was very mellow and sweet.Language: 1- I think the main character is still a bit young to swear a whole lot, but I don't remember there being any swear words.Drugs/Alcohol: 1- No drugs or alcohol. Like I said a very mellow book.Sex: 1- I don't believe Bobby is very old but he has a daughter. That's about the extent.


Has a really good message about what family means. A lot of love in this book. It read a bit like a (longer) short story - not a lot of action, but plenty of character change.

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